What Is Assam Tea And Where Does It Come From?

by Steven Popec 30. July 2012 12:00

Assam tea has been popular for hundreds of years. In fact, Assam is widely considered to be the world’s largest tea-growing region. Located in India, Assam is known for its popular blends of black, green, and white loose leaf teas, all of which feature a distinctly bright color and hints of fruit flavor.

Today, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about Assam tea, from its history to its flavor.

The history of Assam tea

Assam is a region in India. It is bordered by one of the country’s largest rivers, the Brahmaputra. Assam is located in the far eastern side of the country, bordering Burma and Bangladesh. The entire region is prone to flooding and experiences high-precipitation monsoon periods on an annual basis. More importantly, Assam’s unique climate and high-humidity have made it a veritable greenhouse for tea production.

Most tea producing countries of the world cannot actually grow tea natively. In almost all cases, tea crops are imported. However, Assam is one of only two regions in the world where tea plants grow natively (the other region is southern China, which is located nearby).

During the 1830s, adventurers from the United Kingdom began to venture into Assam. They discovered that locals were brewing flavorful, aromatic tea from the wild plants that grew on the hillside. These adventurers informed friends that there could be a market for the crop back in Britain. By the time the English East India Committee had colonized the region, Assam tea had already developed a reputation as being heathy, flavorful, and fragrant.

What makes Assam tea unique?

Assam tea is unique for a number of reasons. Assam tea is different than Darjeeling tea and Nilgiri tea because it is grown in the lowlands, not the highlands. Assam tea grows solely in the valley of the Brahmaputra River, in which the nutrient-rich clay provides ample fertilizer for tea crops.

Both Chinese and Assam teas are made from the camellia sinensis plant, although tea made in China is created from a slightly different strain of camellia sinensis. Assam tea is unique because of its glossy, dark green-colored eaves. The leaves of the Assam tea plant are also noticeably wider than Chinese tea plants.

In terms of health benefits, Assam tea is similar to Chinese teas and other blends. Assam tea has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, and it has also been suggested to improve the immune system, relieve tension, and soothe nerves.

Assam tea is notorious for being strong, which can make it challenging for beginner tea drinkers. Many people choose to drink Assam tea with milk, which tends to complement its malty flavor. Because of these characteristics, Assam tea is usually marketed as breakfast tea around the world.

Conclusion

Because Assam produces tea naturally, the region has perfected tea cultivation over centuries. Today, tea drinkers can take a look at some of ESP Emporium’s best Assam tea blends under the black teas category.

Four Main Varieties of Loose Tea

by Elena Popec 10. June 2010 10:11

There are thousands of varieties of tea throughout the world, and even among these the tea can be processed in a unique and different way. India’s Assam region harvests the most tea, and second in total world production is Sri Lanka. Among the varieties of tea are oolongs, assam, darjeeling, silver needle, wuyi, gyokuro, sencha, dragon well, white peony, and ceylon. There are thousands of types of teas, and the choices can be overwhelming. Most of these different types fall under four main types. These four main ones are ones which you are probably familiar with if you are a regular tea drinker: green, black, oolong, and white teas.

Do the Different Types of Teas Come from Different Plants?
   
There is only one type of plant that tea comes from, which may surprise someone who is new to the world of tea. All tea comes from the Camellia sinesis plant. There are some teas, called tisanes, which don’t come from Camellia sinesis. These include chamomile and herbal teas. But a newcomer might wonder how the single plant produces so many different types of teas.

If Teas All Come from the Same Plant, What Makes Them Different?
   
Anything can change the outcome of a tea. And there is a lot that affects the Camellia sinesis plant. Changes in the weather or different altitudes can impact how a tea turns out. Different parts of the world have different climates and different compounds of soil. These account for very varied types of teas that exist in the world today. A look at the four main types of tea:

Green Tea
   
Green tea is pretty well known these days and it offers many health benefits. It’s harvested in the spring, and after harvesting the oxidation process is stopped. Green tea is fermented a little longer. Some types are grown in the shade, and some are grown in sunshine. It’s a common variety of tea and can be found in most grocery stores, but there are certain types of this tea which are incredibly expensive. Some types of green tea can cost hundreds for a few ounces.

Black Tea
   
Black tea is oxidized more than the other three types of teas. The leaves are left to dry until they turn dark. It is also known to have health benefits as the other types. Black tea has much more caffeine than the other types of tea, and is consumed more world wide than the other types of tea.

Oolong Tea
   
Oolong, also called wu long, has a longer oxidation process, like black tea. Oolong tea varies in taste, but can have a woody or flowery flavor. Oolong is similar to green and black teas, and is a cross between the two.

White Tea
   
White tea is harvested in the spring, like green tea. It’s sweet in taste and has a delicious aroma. It is the least fermented type of tea and goes through a very simple process. It’s simply left out to be dried by the sun or in a room with specially controlled climate. It has health benefits that include its ability to fight cancer and fight off organisms that cause disease.

The Origins Of British Tea Traditions

by Elena Popec 6. April 2010 21:21

 

Loose Leaf Tea

The origin of tea traditions of England is obliged to one of the most beautiful women in the middle of XVII century. In 1662 Charles II married princess Catherine of Braganza from Portugal. The Portuguese had been the first Europeans that encountered tea, controlled the trade routes from Asia and drank this wonderful beverage. Chest with tea leaves, among other treasures was in bride’s dowry. According to tradition, the new queen’s passion for tea was appreciated in court, and soon became the most popular drink in the chambers of Buckingham Palace. Inventive British replaced the eastern bowls for cups and saucers and used tea spoons for sugar that also entered into vogue in the XVII century.

The British aristocracy recognized only the tea from the youngest and most succulent of the upper leaves, which are called "Orange Pekoe". "Orange" comes from the Dutch word meaning "gold, royal, belonging to the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau," and "Pekoe" - from the Chinese word "leaf". Because The Dutch East India Company played a central role in introducing tea to Europe, perhaps, they could have marketed the tea as "Orange" to propose a royal warrant. However, in modern classification of common tea leaf grades "Orange Pekoe" stands for "royal leaf".

The real revolution in the tea business actually began in 1837 with the ascension to the throne of the young Queen Victoria. China was unable to meet the increased demand in Europe and began to supply the market with product of insufficient quality. At the time, relations between Great Britain and China had escalated. In response to the British sanctions, China has imposed an embargo on trade with Britain. But the decisive Queen Victoria signed a decree of establishing the state tea company in the British colony - the North Indian province of Assam. Mayor of the Royal Guard, Robert Bruce and his brother Charles crossed breeded seeds smuggled out of China with local tea trees. Thus was launched a completely new variety with bright color and a strong astringent taste. In memory of those events, one of the types of English tea from Assam is named "Victorian".

By the middle of the XIX century, Britain became the largest tea supplier, capable of providing not only the needs of the empire, but also neighboring countries. The Assam black tea from the Indian colony of Great Britain, Russians merchants carried by caravans and sold in the capital's shops, "colonial goods" under the name "Indian tea". Taste of Assam for Russians still is the most familiar and traditional.

In XX century, the British voluntarily renounced the former "tea" colonies and focused the effort on improving the quality of tea blends. This act has reflected on a nation-wide British love for tea. Continuing the Victorian tradition, modern tea masters - tea testers - offer demanding connoisseurs of tea a wide variety of traditional and exotic flavors. English tea has long gone beyond the United Kingdom, and in many countries today, tea lovers enjoy impeccable taste, intelligence and respect for people.

 

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